Richard Justice: ‘Embarrassingly Bad Day For Astros’

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Jeff Luhnow (Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Jeff Luhnow (Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

The Houston Astros are attempting to build a consistent World Series contender, but last week they made a serious negotiating blunder with one of their top prospects.

That prospect is Brady Aiken, who has drawn comparisons to Clayton Kershaw and Andy Pettitte. The Astros, who view the 17-year-old Aiken as a future No. 1 starter, agreed to pay him $6.5 million. That’s a lot of money, yes, but it’s also about $1.4 million below the allotted price for their No. 1 pick, so Houston was still getting a bargain.

Well, then the Astros got greedy.

They tried to sign Aiken for $5 million, which would have left roughly $3 million to sign high school pitchers Jacob Nix and Mac Marshall, who were picked int he fifth and 21st rounds, respectively.

Houston’s rationale? An MRI revealed that Aiken – while not injured – would be more susceptible to injury in the future. As a result, signing for $5 million, as opposed to $6.5 million, was only fair.

Aiken, who figured he was already giving the Astros a discount, was furious and did not take the deal.

“My opinion is that they outsmarted themselves,” columnist Richard Justice said of the Astros on The John Feinstein Show. “And you can say, ‘Well, the kid walked away from $5 million.’ But I think the way the kid looks at is, ‘I walked away from a (bad) 10-year marriage with you guys. I didn’t want to do business with you.’”

To make matters worse, Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow was forced to rescind his offer to Nix.

“At the end of the day, Aiken did walk away from $5 million and nobody’s going to sympathize with him,” Justice said. “But the kid, Nix, had a $1.4 million (offer) on the table and they took the offer back.”

“It was an embarrassingly bad day for the franchise.”

Speaking of embarrassingly bad days for Texas franchises, Rangers starter Colby Lewis scolded Toronto’s Colby Rasmus on Saturday for bunting against the shift with two outs and the bases empty in a 2-0 game.

In the fifth inning.

Lewis, 34, has had a tough season, but has he lost his mind?

“I think he lost his cool,” Justice said. “Colby’s a great man. He’s had a great career. And he’s recovering from a (hip) surgery that, he really shouldn’t even be on the mound. I think he can see the end of the line. I think sometimes in the heat of battle, you do and say things you shouldn’t do and say. So no, that’s not one of the unwritten rules – and Colby knows that.”

Elsewhere in the American League, the Royals (48-50) have lost eight of their last 10 and are now eight games back in the AL Central.

“They have great defense and they pitch, but they just have too many holes in their lineup,” Justice said. “Ironically, the two guys they built a whole foundation (around) – (Eric) Hosmer and (Mike) Moustakas – just haven’t gotten it done. (Billy) Butler hasn’t gotten it done. They don’t hit home runs. They don’t score enough runs.”

Detroit, meanwhile, is 55-41, has a 6.5-game lead over Cleveland and appears poised to win its fourth consecutive division title.

“The Tigers are who they were supposed to be,” Justice said. “At the end of the day, that rotation is unbelievably good. They’re men. Miguel Cabrera and Ian Kinsler and Torii Hunter – they’re men playing like men. That’s the definition of a good team. They may be one reliever short. I don’t know. If Jonathan Papelbon ends up there, we could be headed for another Oakland/Detroit postseason series.”


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